POLICY AND PROCEDURE

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1 SICKNESS ABSENCE MANAGEMENT POLICY AND PROCEDURE

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3 Version History Version Status Author Date Comments 1 Initial Draft AGH 23/04/13 Initial draft for discussion 2 Amended AGH 11/11/13 Amended following Sub-committee 3 Amended AGH 26/03/14 Addition of principles for covering absent staff. 4 Amended AJH 3/12/14 Additional guidance on family leave Policy Review: Annually, unless changes need to be made in light of legislation. (Personnel Sub Committee) 3

4 Index of Contents SANDYMOOR SCHOOL PRINCIPLES FOR MANAGING SICKNESS ABSENCE 5 1. Purpose and Principles 5 2. Scope 6 3. Sick Pay Teaching Staff: Non- Teaching Staff: 6 4. Arrangements Short Term Sickness Absence Management Procedure Return to Work after Short Term Illness Long Term Sickness Absence Management Procedure Return to Work after a Long Term Illness 8 5. Informal Response to Short and Long Term Sickness Absences 9 6. Formal Action in Response to Short and Long Term Sickness Absence Notification of the Formal Absence Review Meeting Prior to a Formal Meeting The Absence Review Meeting general points to consider Conducting the Sickness Absence Review Meeting During the Adjournment Reconvening the Meeting Possible Outcomes No Action Referral Consideration of adjustments to the role or alternative employment First letter of concern Second letter of concern Termination of Contract The Process for Appeal Before the Appeal The Appeal Hearing general points to consider Conducting the Appeal Hearing During the Adjournment Reconvening the Appeal Hearing 17 APPENDIX 1 Guidance for Managers/Monitoring Officers CONFIDENTIALITY APPENDIX 2 Role of the Companion

5 Sandymoor School Principles for Managing Sickness Absence 1. Purpose and Principles The school recognises the professionalism and commitment of its employees and aims to provide a healthy, secure and pleasant environment in which to work. The purpose of this document is to ensure consistent and fair treatment of employees in relation to sickness absence, whether the absence is as a result of occasional or long term ill health or disability. The following principles will apply: The school recognises that employees will, from time to time, be unable to come to work for short or longer periods due to illness. Long term sickness will normally be described as a period of time greater than four continuous weeks. Whilst the school understands that there will be some absence amongst employees, due regard will also be paid to the needs of the pupils, and the needs of colleagues who may have to undertake additional work alongside their own responsibilities in order to cover absence. Issues will be dealt with promptly. Fairness and transparency will be promoted by developing and using these procedures consistently across the School. At each stage of the process, if appropriate, the reasons for absence will be discussed with the employee and help will be offered with the aim of facilitating a speedy return to work. If the absence is in part due to personal or family problems, a degree of tolerance and sympathy will be shown towards the employee. As a guideline, absence due to caring for sick relatives, or other related family issues, will be dealt with sensitively. It is recognised that absence in this circumstance is frequently unavoidable, but the employee is required to make every effort to arrange alternative arrangements. Up to the first 5 days leave in any one situation will be paid, and up to 7 days in total over the year. Additional days taken for family issues will be authorised, but unpaid. Employees have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to keep themselves healthy. In certain circumstances employees may be asked to give consent to be examined by the School s Occupational Health Physician and to allow their doctor and the Occupational Health Physician to provide a medical report to the school. Employees will be able to see the report prior to this being sent to the school should they wish to. If an employee is disabled the school will make any reasonable changes and adjustments to the workplace, or the way the work is done in an attempt to work with the employee to overcome the effects of their disability. Normally, in line with contractual arrangements salary will continue to be paid to employees who are absent due to sickness. 5

6 Sickness Absence Management Procedures may be implemented at any stage if the levels of illness/absence warrant such action. The timescales of such Procedures and the Review Panel composition may be extended or changed by mutual agreement between the employee and a member of the school s management team. All proceedings will remain confidential to the parties involved. Records will be kept no longer than necessary in accordance with the Data Protection Act. 2. Scope This policy and procedures do not form part of the contract of employment; however, they apply to all full and part time employees of the school, with one year or more continuous service, including those employed on temporary or fixed-term contracts. Each area of the school will assess the relevant circumstances and apply the procedure accordingly. The policy and procedures will be regularly reviewed and may be amended from time to time. Any amendments will be notified to employees in writing by the Principal and such written advice will inform employees as to the date when any amendment comes into effect. This notification may be by means of the School s intranet or via staff notice boards. 3. Sick Pay 3.1 Teaching Staff: (As per standard teachers terms and conditions the Burgundy Book, but recognition of prior service can be approved at the discretion of the Personnel Sub-Committee for individual cases) Provided the appropriate conditions are met, a teacher absent from duty because of illness (which includes injury or other disability) shall be entitled to receive in any one year sick pay as follows (all figures are Pro Rata):- During the first year of service full pay for 25 working days and after completing four calendar months service, half pay for 50 working days, then statutory sick pay. During the second year of service full pay for 50 working days and then half pay for 50 working days, then statutory sick pay. During the third year of service full pay for 75 working days and half pay for 75 working days, then statutory sick pay. During fourth and subsequent years full pay for 100 working days and half pay for 100 working days, then statutory sick pay. 3.2 Non-Teaching Staff: (As per the local government services terms and conditions the Green Book ) During 1st year of service During 2nd year of service During 3rd year of service During 4th and 5th year of service After 5 years service 1 months full pay and (after completing 4 months service) 2 months half pay 2 months full pay and 2 months half pay 4 months full pay and 4 months half pay 5 months full pay and 5 months half pay 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay 6

7 Entitlement to Occupational Sick Pay also depends on the amount of sickness absence taken in the 12 months prior to the current period of sickness absence starting. Any absence at full or half pay during these 12 months will be deducted from an employee s total entitlement. For example, an employee entitled to the maximum sick leave (6 months full and 6 months half pay) who has already had 2 months sick leave at full pay, within the last 12 months, will have an entitlement of 4 months full and 6 months half pay. 4. Arrangements Managers will inform employees of the procedure for reporting sickness absence and employees should adhere to this in the event that they need to be absent from work due to illness. The actions required to report sickness absence may differ according to the circumstances of the situation, however in any event it is the responsibility of the employee to inform their Line Manager, by telephone, prior to the time they are expected to commence duty on the first day of absence. Where possible across the School an informal and flexible approach will be applied to accommodate and cover unavoidable absence due to sickness. On occasion, where levels of sickness absence are considered too high, or to be occurring too frequently, or where reporting or certification procedures are not followed correctly formal action may be required. The arrangements for dealing with long and short term sickness absences are detailed below. Long term sickness is defined as a period of time greater than four weeks. Informal responses are dealt with in Section 2 and Formal Action is covered in Section Short Term Sickness Absence Management Procedure Those who are responsible for managing sections or departments within the school will work closely with employees who are absent from work to enable them to reduce the amount of time they are away from work, and to facilitate their return. Managers will make clear to their staff the levels of absence which are considered to be unacceptable. For teaching posts, the guidance from the STRPB will be adhered to. For non-teaching posts, in the first instance, the line manager will assess the impact of the absence and seek to cover from existing staff. Where this is considered impossible, or would be to the detriment of others &/or the smooth running of the school, then the following will be sought as a solution: Contact existing, part-time staff, and seek their increase in hours, temporarily to cover. If the work is not of a sensitive nature, look to call on school volunteers to fill the short-fall. Seek agency staff to cover Return to Work after Short Term Illness When the employee returns to work the Line Manager may need to confirm that he/she is well enough to return to work. It may be necessary to meet with the employee but this will be at the discretion of the designated person and his/her assessment of the circumstances of the case. 7

8 The employee (on return to work after illness) will be required to complete a self-certification form which will be countersigned by the Line Manager, and passed to the Principal. If the illness is for more than seven calendar days a Statement of Fitness for Work will be required from the doctor. This should be sent to the Line Manager, or other nominated person who will then pass it through to the Principal. The statement will advise that the employee is either unfit for work, or may be fit for work under specified circumstances Long Term Sickness Absence Management Procedure From the start and throughout the period of absence it will be the employee s responsibility to maintain regular appropriate communication with the designated person within the school; this is likely to be their Line Manager. When he/she has been absent for four weeks, where appropriate, an initial review meeting will be held. This will involve the employee, (if possible) and normally the Line Manager; however another member of staff may be nominated to do this. The employee's absence and state of health or fitness will be reviewed to see whether there is any improvement. Discussion will take place about the likely timescale for his/her return to work and any help the school may give to facilitate his/her recovery will be identified, and the relevant action taken. In certain cases the doctor may provide a Statement of Fitness for Work outlining the type of work and circumstances under which the employee can return to work. If this is the case these suggestions will be discussed with the employee and if appropriate changes will be made. Where the employee has been absent from work for three months or more or at work with temporary adjustments for three months or more, the school may request that the employee be examined by the Occupational Health Doctor (at the school's expense) and that he/she agree to allow the doctor to provide a medical report to the school. The report should provide a prognosis of the condition and an explanation of the likely timescale of the employee being able to return to work or to return to their full contractual duties. For teaching posts, the guidance from the STRPB will be adhered to. For non-teaching posts, in the first instance, the line manager will assess the impact of the absence and seek to cover from existing staff. Where this is considered impossible, or would be to the detriment of others &/or the smooth running of the school, then the following will be sought as a solution: Contact existing, part-time staff, and seek their increase in hours, temporarily to cover. If the work is not of a sensitive nature, look to call on school volunteers to fill the short-fall. Seek agency staff to cover Return to Work after a Long Term Illness When an employee has been absent for a long period and is well enough to return to work, or where the Statement of Fitness for Work states this may be the case the Line Manager and the Head teacher will meet with the employee to discuss the terms of his/her return. The discussions may need to involve a School Nurse and the Health and Safety Manager if any further medical assessment, or a Health and Safety risk assessment is required. The details outlined on the Statement of Fitness for Work from the doctor will need to be taken into account e.g. the doctor has stated that the employee is ready to return to work, under certain circumstances. If this is the case the employee will be asked about the details on the statement including: 8

9 his/her capabilities, for example whether he/she is confident and capable of performing the whole role or only part of the role whether he/she is able to return to a full-time role or whether a phased return would be beneficial whether he/she will be taking any medication after his/her return to work that might have side effects, for example tiredness whether any special arrangements, additional support or adjustments to his/her duties, working conditions or environment will be required that will help reintegration into the workplace whether an induction programme will be desirable or necessary, for example if the absence has been lengthy and if a number of organisational or procedural changes have taken place. If the doctor issues a Statement advising may be fit for work the doctor will state the period the advice covers for a forward period (in calendar days, not working days) and it will then be the case that once the period has expired the employee can return to work on normal duties, (with the agreement of the School) without visiting the doctor again. In some cases the employee may feel well enough to return to full duties before the expiry of the forward period referred to above. If this happens the employee will not need to see the doctor again for another Statement. If it is not possible for the support (advised by the doctor) to be provided the Statement will be used as if the doctor had advised not fit for work. After the employee's return, the Line Manager will: take all reasonable steps to facilitate the employee's reintegration into the workplace make sure that the employee s workload is effectively managed, for example he/she is not required to deal with a huge backlog of work caused by the period of absence monitor the employee's progress over the first few weeks to ensure that he/she is coping with the work and the day-to-day pressures of working life. 5. Informal Response to Short and Long Term Sickness Absences If a pattern of absence is identified, or where the number of days and/or frequency of absence results in 3 episodes in 3 calendar months or more, the School the Line Manager will arrange to meet the employee. After thorough investigation and discussion with the employee the underlying reasons for the sickness absence/s will be established. Consideration will also be given to whether the employee's absence is in any way work related, for example as a result of workplace stress. If the problem is work related, steps will be taken promptly to remove or reduce the factor that is causing the employee's problem. The Line Manager will be supportive, but at the same time will explain clearly to the employee that continuing absence from work is unacceptable. The employee s sickness absence will be monitored and if improvement is not achieved or maintained the matter will be discussed at a Formal meeting. 9

10 6. Formal Action in Response to Short and Long Term Sickness Absence This section should be read in conjunction with Appendices 1 and 2 Where an employee s frequent short term absence continues to give cause for concern, a formal Absence Review meeting will take place. This will also be the case when an employee has a long term absence due to sickness (between four weeks and three months) and where there is no firm indication of when the employee is due to return to work. The Absence Review meeting may be held with a more senior colleague, however on many occasions the Line Manager will be the most appropriate person to deal with the matter, using the evidence that they have already collected about the absence/s of the employee. The manager will use this opportunity to put the case forward to the employee themselves, give the employee the opportunity to respond and if appropriate, after full consideration, to take formal action by issuing a first letter of concern, or to make arrangements for another course of action if this is felt to be appropriate. If the absence is considered to be an issue of poor conduct it may be dealt with under the School s Disciplinary Procedures. This may also be the case if it is felt that after a long period of absence the employee is choosing not to return to work, even though a Statement of Fitness to Work or medical report confirms they are ready to do so. Where medical information confirms that an employee s illness is long term and that the absent employee is unlikely to return to work within a reasonable time, or that the prognosis is poor for them to be able to sustain their return, this will be raised at the formal Absence Review meeting. 6.1 Notification of the Formal Absence Review Meeting Prior to a Formal Meeting In the event that the Manager who has been dealing with the matter on an informal basis wishes to move to a formal approach a formal Absence Review meeting will be arranged. The following shall apply: The Manager (Monitoring Officer) will hold a meeting, or write to the employee to inform him/her of his/her continuing unacceptable level of absence and the decision to proceed to a formal meeting. The Monitoring Officer will also explain the employee s right to be accompanied and the possible outcomes of the meeting, including dismissal, where appropriate. A date and time for the meeting, within five working days of confirmation to proceed, will normally be proposed at this stage. This is classed as Day One of the formal proceedings. The Monitoring Officer will also compose a letter on behalf of the Chair, setting out the shortfall between the employee s attendance and the required standard. The letter will include details of the absence/s and details of support offered and provided, if appropriate. The letter will confirm the date, time and location of the meeting that the employee is required to attend and the possible outcomes. 10

11 At least two working days before the meeting, a member of the Admin Department will compile and distribute any relevant documents, including where appropriate copies of written evidence. At least two working days before the meeting the employee should inform a member of the Admin Department who they have chosen as their companion. If the companion cannot attend at the time specified in the letter the employee may suggest another reasonable time, normally within no more than five working days after the original date. The nature and role of the companion is outlined at Appendix 2. Consideration will be given to arranging an interpreter where the employee has difficulty speaking English, and to whether any reasonable adjustments are necessary for a person who is disabled and/or their companion The Absence Review Meeting general points to consider The meeting will be conducted in a manner that enables the Monitoring Officer and the employee to explain their cases. If appropriate any special circumstances will be taken into account, for example personal or other outside issues. Time will be allowed for any points that are raised to be considered carefully. A member of staff who is not involved will normally take a note of the meeting and act as a witness to what is said. The School will not allow the employee or their companion to tape record the meeting. If an employee is repeatedly unable or unwilling to attend the meeting or refuses to cooperate and/or participate in the operation of the sickness absence management procedure, the School will have no option but to make a decision based on the evidence available. If the employee is absent again due to sickness when the meeting is due to take place, it will either take place with the employee s representative acting on their behalf with written authorisation to do so, or, on production of a Statement of Fitness to Work advising unfit for work, may be postponed until the day following expiry of the Statement. If this is the case this day will then be regarded as the new Day One of the proceedings. In cases where this absence is likely to be more than two weeks the School will have no option but to go ahead with the Hearing with the employee s representative acting on their behalf, or if they do not have a representative, to make a decision based on the evidence available. In exceptional circumstances an employee may raise a grievance during an absence review meeting and it may be appropriate to consider stopping the meeting and suspending the procedure. Examples when this may happen include situations where the grievance relates to a conflict of interest that the manager holding the sickness absence review meeting is alleged to have, bias is alleged in the conduct of the absence review meeting, evidence about absences that has been collected has been selective, or there is possible discrimination Conducting the Sickness Absence Review Meeting For any Sickness Absence Review Meeting, the Panel will consist of the Chair, and Monitoring Officer. The Chair will start by stating that the hearing is being conducted as 11

12 part of the School s formal Sickness Absence Management Procedure and confirm that a written record of the meeting will be made. Following this the Chair will introduce those present and explain their roles. He/she will remind the employee of his/her right to be accompanied if a fellow employee or Professional Association/Trade Union Representative is not already in attendance. The Chair will introduce and explain the role of the companion if present (see Appendix 2). The Chair will explain that the purpose of the meeting is to consider whether any action should be taken in accordance with the School s Sickness Absence Management Procedure. He/she will then give a brief outline of how the meeting will be conducted (see steps below). The Chair will ask the Monitoring Officer to give details of the absence/s, outlining the reasons for the absence/s and any support that has been given to the employee. If the monitoring of absence has been undertaken by the Chair of the meeting, which on occasions it will have been he/she will outline the details. The Chair will aim to establish whether the employee is prepared to accept that the level of absence is above that expected by the School and highlight the difficulties caused to the department by the absence. If this is the case he/she may want to agree, during the discussion that follows, the steps which should be taken to remedy the situation. The discussion will include some, or all, of the following: o Exploration of the reasons for the frequent or long term absence/s, including whether there any special circumstances to be taken into account. Any medical evidence will be considered at this stage o Any action to be taken by the employee to address his/her poor health resulting in frequent or long term absence o Any further support and/or adjustments to be considered and provided by the school where appropriate. It may be necessary to refer the employee to an Occupational Health Advisor o A revision of duties and/or hours of work o Securing of the employee s commitment to reaching an agreed reduction in absence, if appropriate, or confirmation of a date the employee will return to work o Agreement for a review period to monitor the levels of attendance and the effectiveness of any adjustments, help or support that has been agreed o Confirmation of the attendance levels required in the future, with dates and review arrangements. Throughout the meeting the employee and his/her companion will be given the opportunity to explain the reasons for absence and to suggest any actions to be taken to reduce the levels. 12

13 If it becomes clear at this stage that the employee has provided an adequate explanation of why their attendance is below that required, or the reason for the long term absence has been resolved and the employee is returning to work the Chair will bring the proceedings to a close, having agreed any actions required with the employee. If this is not the case, after the discussion is finished, and in order to remind all parties of the nature and frequency (if appropriate) of the absences, the reasons (if any) and evidence put forward, the Chair will summarise the main points. The Chair will then ask if there are any further questions, or any additional information to be considered. The Chair will inform the employee of when he/she might reasonably expect to be informed of the outcome. An adjournment will be called in order for the Chair to consider his/her decision During the Adjournment Before deciding any outcome, the Chair, in consultation with the Monitoring Officer, will consider the instances and circumstances when the frequent absences have occurred and in the case of a long term absence consider the circumstances in which this has occurred, whether standards of other employees are acceptable, (and that this employee is not being unfairly singled out), and whether the outcomes suggested have been applied in similar cases. Any mitigating circumstances that have been put forward will also be considered. Finally the Chair will determine whether the proposed action is reasonable in view of all the circumstances, and whether any additional information, support or adjustments to the work, and/or hours of work are necessary. Whilst considering the action to be taken the Chair will be aware that similar shortfalls in attendance will not always call for the same action, and that each case will need to be looked at on its own merits and any relevant circumstances taken into account. The Chair will consider such relevant circumstances including workload, lack of resources, domestic problems, poor leadership, difficult colleagues etc Reconvening the Meeting The Chair will reconvene the meeting and inform the employee of the outcome. If a sanction is given the employee will be informed how long the sanction will remain on file for sickness absence management purposes, an explanation of what improvement is expected, how and when this will be reviewed and what the likely consequences of failure to improve may be (where appropriate). Confirmation of the outcome of the meeting and the sanction (if any) will be put in writing to the employee, normally within five working days of the meeting. In the case of a complaint of poor attendance being upheld the letter will outline the levels of attendance expected in the future, how and when this will be reviewed and the likely outcomes in the event of further occurrences of absence and a failure to meet the standards. It will also outline the employee s right to appeal against the sanction, if one has been given, and the process to follow. 13

14 Where the decision is to terminate the Contract of Employment, the Chair will communicate this decision on the grounds of the employee s inability to meet the contractual requirements, due to ill health. If it is decided to terminate the Contract of Employment, the last day of service will normally be the date of the meeting where the employee was informed of this. The employee will be paid for his/her notice period and for any outstanding holidays. Within five working days of this meeting, the employee will be advised in writing of the termination of the contract, with reasons for the termination, the date from which employment will terminate and details of the process for submitting an appeal against the decision. Any successful appeal will normally result in reinstatement from the date of the dismissal. 7. Possible Outcomes The possible outcomes of Formal Action will include: No action Referral to an Occupational Health Advisor for a medical examination/counselling Consideration of adjustments to the role or alternative employment First letter of concern Second letter of concern Termination of contract 7.1 No Action This will be appropriate in circumstances where absence, although undesirable, is due to reasons which have now been resolved. 7.2 Referral This will be appropriate in circumstances where the school wishes to investigate the possibility of an underlying health problem, or where more details of the illness and the likely hood of recovery are required in order to make a decision about the future. 7.3 Consideration of adjustments to the role or alternative employment This stage may be considered at any time during the sickness absence management process and will be appropriate in circumstances where the employee is still unable to meet the attendance levels required whether that is due to long or short term absences. The adjustments may include alternative employment in the school (where this can be found) and reduced hours, if appropriate. This may be considered as an alternative to terminating the employee s contract of employment. Where this is offered and accepted, a new contract of employment will be agreed with the employee, outlining the revised terms, including pay and benefits relative to the new role. This will be a permanent change, and attendance will continue to be monitored in the normal way. 14

15 7.4 First letter of concern This stage will be appropriate in circumstances where the employee has had further absence which breaches the attendance targets agreed as part of the informal process. In this instance, the employee s attendance will be monitored over the next three months. The letter of concern will confirm what was agreed at the Formal meeting, including improvement targets for the next three month period, support mechanisms, review meetings and further action to be taken in the event that attendance does not improve. The letter will remain on the employee s personal file, normally for a period of six months from the date of the Formal Meeting, but will be disregarded after that period, subject to satisfactory attendance. 7.5 Second letter of concern This stage will be appropriate in circumstances where the employee has failed to meet the improvement targets outlined in the first letter of concern. In some cases if absence levels are very high, and have increased following the attendance targets agreed as part of the informal process a second letter of concern may be issued. In this instance, the employee s attendance will be monitored over the following three months. The letter of concern will confirm what was agreed at the Formal meeting, including improvement targets, support mechanisms, review meetings and further action to be taken in the event that attendance does not improve. The letter will state that if the employee does not reach, and maintain the required standard, he/she will be dismissed. The letter will remain on the employee s personal file, normally for a period of twelve months from the date of the meeting, but will be disregarded after that period, subject to satisfactory attendance. 7.6 Termination of Contract This stage will be appropriate in circumstances where the employee has had further absence since the second letter of concern was issued, and it is considered that there will be no reasonable likelihood of an acceptable improvement in his/her levels of attendance. Termination of contract may also be appropriate where it has been determined that the absence/s is/are due to an underlying health problem, or where employees have been absent due to long term ill health, and that adjustments made to the role or alternative employment have not enabled the employee to meet his/her contract of employment. 8. The Process for Appeal This section should be read in conjunction with Appendix 2 Employees have the right to appeal against any action taken against them, and to be accompanied at the Appeal Hearing. Appeals may be raised on any number of grounds, for instance the employee feels that the action was wrong or unjust, too severe, new medical evidence has been provided, or some inconsistency in relation to the sanction imposed. 8.1 Before the Appeal 15

16 Any employee wishing to appeal against a sanction should specify their grounds for appeal in writing to the Headteacher within seven working days of completion of the absence review meeting. The employee may wish to seek advice from his/her Professional Association/Trade Union Representative. The appeal meeting will normally take place within ten working days of receipt of the letter of appeal, and the appeal may either be a review of the sanction or a re-hearing depending on the grounds of the appeal. The Monitoring Officer will compose a letter on behalf of the Chair, setting out the date, time and location of the appeal meeting that the employee is invited to attend. The letter will also explain the employee s right to be accompanied at the appeal meeting. At least two working days before the meeting, a member of the Admin Department will compile and distribute any relevant documents. Depending on the circumstances and grounds for appeal, more evidence, including, if appropriate, medical evidence from outside the organisation may be required. If this is necessary the appeal meeting will be postponed until this is available. At least two working days before the Appeal Hearing, the employee should inform a member of the Personnel Department who they have chosen as their companion. If the companion cannot attend at the time specified in the letter the employee may suggest another reasonable time, normally within no more than five days after the original date. The nature and role of the companion is outlined at Appendix The Appeal Hearing general points to consider The meeting will be conducted in a manner that enables the employee to explain their reasons for appeal. If appropriate any special circumstances will be taken into account for example personal or other outside issues. Time will be allowed for evidence, and any other points that have been raised to be considered carefully. A member of staff who is not involved will normally take a note of the meeting and act as a witness to what was said. The School will not allow the employee or their companion to tape record the meeting. The relevant records and notes of the original absence review meeting will be available for all concerned. If the employee is absent due to sickness when the appeal meeting is due to take place, it will either take place with the employee s representative acting on their behalf with written authorisation to do so, or, on production of a Statement of Fitness to Work advising unfit for work, may be postponed until the day following expiry of the Statement. This day will then be regarded as the new Day One of the Appeal proceedings. 8.3 Conducting the Appeal Hearing In the event that an appeal is received the following shall apply: 16

17 The Appeal Panel will consist of the Chair, and the Monitoring Officer. The Chair of the Appeals panel will normally be someone senior in authority to the person who took the decision in respect of the outcome of the absence review meeting, and if possible someone who was not involved in the original meeting or decision. The Chair will start by introducing those present and explaining their roles and will remind the employee of his/her right to be accompanied if a fellow employee or Professional Association/Trade Union Representative is not already in attendance. The Chair will introduce and explain the role of the companion if present (see Appendix 2). The Chair will explain the purpose of the meeting, how it will be conducted, (see steps below) and the powers the person hearing the appeal has. The appeal will not be used to punish an employee for appealing the original decision, and it is unlikely to result in any increase in the sanction. The Chair will ask the employee why he/she is appealing. The Chair will pay particular attention to any new information given by the employee and comment on it. A general discussion will take place to make sure all the facts and relevant information surrounding the appeal have been established and the Chair will then summarise the facts and call an adjournment to consider the decision. 8.4 During the Adjournment Before deciding whether to change the decision the Chair will consider any new information that has come to light and ultimately whether the sanction is reasonable in view of all the circumstances. If it becomes apparent that there is a need to change the previous decision because it was not soundly based such action will be taken. This will support the independent nature of the appeal. 5.5 Reconvening the Appeal Hearing The Chair will reconvene the meeting and inform the employee of the outcome and the change to the sanction imposed (if any). The employee will be informed of the reasons for the change. The above will be confirmed in writing, normally within five working days of the Appeal meeting. In the case of termination of the Contract of Employment on the grounds of the employee s inability to meet the contractual requirements due to ill health, any successful appeal will normally result in reinstatement from the date of the dismissal. The decision of the Appeal Panel will be the final stage of the internal procedure 17

18 APPENDIX 1 Guidance for Managers/Monitoring Officers Whenever a Manager becomes aware that there is a shortfall in the levels of attendance of a particular employee it will be necessary to deal with the matter promptly and in an open and supportive manner. The Manager should look into the background and surrounding circumstances to gather all the relevant facts about what the level of absence is, whether there are any patterns emerging and why this might be the case. Assistance to do this should be sought from the Personnel Department. This might include: a review of the absences including the number of instances, number of days/weeks/months, frequency of the absence/s including any patterns which may emerge e.g. before or after the weekend, before or after holiday times or before or after rota days off a review of the Job Description, and the tasks which take place on certain days of the week to identify if there is any correlation between these tasks and the days the employee is absent a reassessment of the employees qualifications, skills, knowledge, experience and personal attributes that are needed for the role, and whether a shortfall in these could be causing anxiety and contributing to regular or long term absences for new employees a review of his/her induction in order to determine whether this was sufficient, and if not whether it could be causing a problem and leading to absence a review of the workload, resources and support available to the employee to ensure this is suitable and the effects are not contributing to the need to take time away an assessment of the employees methods of working and whether these are effective and/or whether they could be causing anxiety resulting in time away from work a review of any other difficulties the employee may be experiencing e.g. domestic, personal (drug or alcohol problems), re-occurrence of a previous medical problem that may have now come to light. In the first instance having reviewed all the above the Manager may need to talk to the employee in order to determine the relevant facts. Employees do not have a statutory right to be accompanied at an investigatory meeting, however if the employee requests to be accompanied the School will consider the request and inform the employee of the decision. The nature and extent of the investigations into the absences should depend on the seriousness of the situation; the more serious it is then the more thorough the investigation should be. It is not always necessary to hold an investigatory meeting; however if it is necessary the employee should be given advance warning and time to prepare. The meeting should be conducted by a management representative. The investigation might also involve: checking if the employee has details of any previous attendance problems recorded on file, and if sanctions have been applied whether or not these are still active reviewing the employee's written reviews to check whether or not a similar problem in relation to absence has been discussed at a review 18

19 talking discretely to the employees previous manager who may have relevant information, and reviewing any other relevant documentation and records The Manager/Monitoring Officer must keep an open mind and look for evidence that supports the employee s case as well as evidence against. An objective and balanced view of any information that comes to light should be taken, and the Monitoring Officer must avoid allowing personal views, opinions, and likes or dislikes to influence the assessment of the employee's attendance. Evidence to support the conclusion that the employee is not meeting the required standard of attendance, for whatever reason can take many forms, including; self certification forms, Statements of Fitness to Work from the doctor, and requests for medical appointments. The manager/monitoring officer must consider the relevance of all these forms of evidence when assessing the seriousness of the situation. Confidentiality Matters related to the monitoring of the employee absences should not be discussed with colleagues or individuals outside the organisation. Any documentation relating to the absence monitoring should be kept securely and upon completion returned to the Staff File. The Principal should be informed of any personal relationships the Manager/Monitoring Officer may have with the employee, or any history with the individuals that could affect the credibility of the assessment of the levels of absence. Action Following Investigation of the Level of Absence It will always be preferable to deal with the matter informally in the first instance and to give the employee time to reach the attendance standards required by the School. 19

20 APPENDIX 2 Role of the Companion The employee may be accompanied by a fellow employee or a Professional Association/Trade Union Representative, or an official employed by a Trade Union, (not acting in a legal capacity), at any formal absence review meeting, where the meeting could result in a sanction being applied, the taking of some other action, or at appeal the confirmation of a sanction or some other action. A Trade Union representative who is not an employed official must have been certified by their union as being competent to accompany the employee. In respect of an employee who has problems understanding, language difficulties, or a recognised disability, the school will make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a relevant representative. To exercise the request to be accompanied the employee must act reasonably. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the case, e.g. it would not normally be reasonable for the employee to be accompanied by a companion whose presence would prejudice the hearing, or by a member of the School s management team. An employee who has agreed to accompany a colleague will be granted a reasonable amount of paid time off to fulfil that responsibility. This will cover the meetings and in addition time for the companion to familiarise themselves with the case and to confer with the employee before and after the meeting. The companion takes instructions from the employee they are accompanying who may want them to put their case forward on their behalf. They may do this, or if the employee prefers they may just want the companion to sum up their case. In some cases the companion is only required by the employee to take notes. If the employee agrees the companion can respond on the employee s behalf to any view expressed at the meeting, they can confer with the employee during the meeting and ask questions. The companion cannot however answer questions on the employee s behalf, address the meeting if the employee does not wish it, or prevent the employer from explaining the case of the unacceptable level of absence. 20

21 21

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